Sometimes the most beautiful places, are the places closest to home. Savannas Preserve State Park, established in 1978, stretches more than ten miles from Jensen Beach to Ft Pierce containing the “largest, most ecologically intact stretch of freshwater marsh in southeast Florida.”
Ed and I usually visit through the Jensen Beach Boulevard entrance, but recently we entered at Walton Road. The beauty was remarkable!
According to the state’s handout, it was Lt. Benjamin Pierce who first used the term “savannah” to describe a series of ponds and marshes and more that he came upon during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).
If you live near the Treasure Coast, this 5,400 acres offers a valuable close to home experience. Ed and I were there before sunset and even on a cloudy day the lighting was awe inspiring. A wonderful afternoon! Thank you to those who had the foresight to preserve these lands between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.-Ed takes photos of many small and colorful wild flowers and native plants.-Hello armadillo!-My arms are not even the length of a brown pelican’s wing span!-Ed is shorter than a sandhill crane!-Now this is a great classroom!Savannas Preserve State Preserve Park, Florida Parks System.
Map, SLC, Ten and Five Mile Creeks are located in St Lucie County north of Midway Road.
Ernie Lyons wrote in the 1960s: “There was never anything more beautiful than a natural South Florida River, like the North and South Forks of the St Lucie…Their banks of cabbage palms and live oaks draped with Spanish moses and studded with crimson flowered air plants and delicate wild orchids were scenes of tropical wonder, reflected back from the mirror-like onyx surface of the water….”
A recent St Lucie County tourist publication goes back even further back: “Early Ten Mile Creek along with Five Mile Creek to the northeast form the headwaters of the North Fork of the St Lucie. These waters were originally comprised of a large area of interconnected march that eventually formed a creek. This marsh system in times of high water connected with the St Johns River, which flows north, allowing native peoples to travel many miles by canoe. These native peoples lived and flourished in this area 3000 to 750 years BC.”
So what happened? How did this paradise die off? How did the “fresh water in the upper zones, furnishing some of the most marvelous sport fishing conceivable” pretty much disappear?
Again, I will quote Stuart News editor and environmentalist, Ernie Lyons: “Drainage canals mostly for agricultural purposes, cut the throats of the upper rivers. During periods of heavy rainfall, muddy waters gushed down and turned the formerly clear streams into a turbid, silted mess. During dry spells, gated dams held back the water for irrigation. The water table was lowered. Salt marched upstream, turning the formerly fresh waters brackish and eventually so salty that fresh water fish could not procreate.”
As we know, humankind changes his/her environment. Not only were the canals cut in the northern creeks, but Gilbert’s Bar/St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently (by hand) in 1892, allowing salt water permanently into what used to be a fresh water river….the St Lucie.
Somehow it seems we should be able to change things with out creating so much destruction. I have hope our children will…